by Barbara Clifford | Featured Contributor
Most people will think of values as loyalty, honesty, integrity etc. While these virtues are important and admirable, they are more about honor and belief by which we which you choose to live. But what about the beliefs and values that sit at your very core? These are the things that you place great importance on. If you ask a parent, they’d immediately say their children are what they value most, because that’s the honourable thing to say and do. Yes, they should take priority in our lives. However, when you look at what is at your core, this is what will drive you, like a compass and fuel you to fulfil those other virtues.
For example, after doing numerous processes to determine my core beliefs and values, I was surprised to find that what I valued most was organization. I love to make sense of things, to find order in the chaos. To find meaning and purpose in things. This is what I value most and when I am in that space, it is then that my relationships with my children are more empowered. I can have integrity, honesty and humility but only when I am in an organized space.
How Do Core Values Affect Our Day?
You make decisions based on your values every day, sometimes without realizing it.
Procrastination is choosing to do things that give us pleasure over the things that don’t.
Sometimes you might find yourself in a stressed state, unsure of how you got there. When you can dig deep, and allow a level of honesty, and transparency with yourself, you can often find what is at the foundation of this stress.
Decisions become easier when you are clear on your core beliefs and values. Decisions become difficult when you are confused by expectations, or the expectations we place on yourself. This expectation of shoulds and should nots, stem from other’s values and other’s beliefs. You might think about what your partner, parents or boss would expect of you, rather than what is true to who you are. When you are unclear on what you value, you find the decision making process so much harder. You feel less confident about your decisions and doubt whether you are strong enough to make the right one. When you have established a clear parameter around what your values are, you can use them like a filter, running your decisions through them. Decisions become much easier. Once you get in the habit of making big or small decisions through this filter, it has a snowball effect. You will feel less stressed and more attune to the “right” path in life.
How Do We Find Out Our Values and Core Beliefs?
To establish what your values and core beliefs are, you need only look at those sticky habits. Look at your environment around you. What things are common or consistent on your desk, pin-up board or fridge. What things are you attracted to? Or think about the things that distract you on social media, what rabbit holes will you wander down? What do you get distracted watching or reading and time slips by without you being aware? Think about the conversations you have socially. What are the common topics you will bring into the conversation?
If there are tensions at work, at home or in your social circles, what is it that is being challenged? What is it you feel uncomfortable about? It is likely that this is in conflict with something that is important to you and not to them. It is likely that this is something you place great value on and have done for some time, it is a fundamental, core belief.
A great exercise is to randomly jot down idea, values, virtues and beliefs onto post it notes. Try to tap into the shadow parts of your being. You can then prioritize them in importance. Don’t worry, they order will change and quite often our values will change slightly too. Just the act of formalizing your thoughts around these ideas will give your confidence a real boost.
Keep Your Values Front of Mind
Once you’ve determined what your core beliefs and values are, it’s important not to lose sight of them. Keep them close by, find affirmations that re-affirm them and keep them close at hand. It allows you to listen to you, to listen to your heartbeat. You’ll find that when you feel unnerved, unsettled, stressed or take a blow to your confidence, simply by revisiting your values, you can feel empowered once more. You can feel refueled and reminded of what is truly important to who you are.
Don’t forget to revisit and rework your values. As your confidence grows, as you mature, you may find that not all of them are as important as they once were.